That Awkward Moment contains moments of hilarity and shines unlike most romantic comedies in recent memory due to its sexually unbridled protagonists. But its third act collapse and lack of tenacity to follow through with its originality makes the film fall into the trap that most romantic comedies face. The movie stars Zac Efron as Jason, a womanizer who hates relationships and commitment because they make things too complicated. His friends are Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), a married doctor who finds out his wife is having an affair, and Daniel (Miles Teller), who acts almost exactly like Jason. They both work at a design company where they model book covers, and their friend, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), helps set up Daniel with women in the bar. She’s basically his wingman. They frequent the bars and drink together in their apartment, having fun while trying to figure out how to live life without any attachments.
Then Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), a beautiful young woman that he mistakes for a hooker (a funny mix-up) and has to win back because…well, he doesn’t really like her that much, or else that would mean something serious. And when things start up between Daniel and Chelsea and he doesn’t tell the group about it, and Mikey tries to work things out with his wife without telling anyone, it complicates all of their matters. This is a simple romantic comedy with stronger characterizations than normal. At least, until the film’s disastrous third act. The movie sets up laughs remarkably well and provides some unique spurts of comedy that are often hilarious; unfortunately, the final act ties things up too neatly and resorts to clichés. Do all romantic comedies nowadays feel that everything needs to be simple and happy by the film’s conclusion? It’s frustrating, because it doesn’t work, and That Awkward Moment only works in its moments of inspired humor. Otherwise, it’s a misfire.
Grade: ★★½ (out of 5)